Preparing for Tense Conversations at Your Holiday Dinner

You may have noticed and felt that the atmosphere is a little more tense after the election two weeks ago. We’re with you - we see and hear you. As you gather with friends and family around the dinner table this week, the election will likely come up as a topic of discussion.

When it comes to racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism - we completely agree that those are important conversations to have with friends and family. As we’ve stated before (and will continue to state), “We believe that all people deserve a healthy planet with clean air and water, a stable climate, and safe communities. That means all people deserve equal protection under the law. We all have the right to a life free of discrimination, hatred, and violence.”

And as we’re seeing a spike in hate crimes, as well as President-Elect Trump appointing racists to be his advisers and cabinet members, we must all speak out and have those conversations.

We strongly recommend this discussion guide from Showing Up For Racial Justice to help you when you start those conversations or when they come up. SURJ made it specifically for holiday dinner table discussions that we all know will happen in the coming week and month!

For environmentalists who may also see the topics of clean energy, climate disruption, and fossil fuels come up as someone passes the turkey - here’s a short guide we hope will help you with those conversations as well.

Uncle Terry says he’s glad coal will be coming back under Trump’s administration:

That’s not likely, Uncle Terry. Clean energy is already rapidly increasing - wind and solar are the fastest growing energy sectors because they’re cheaper than coal. The cost of solar power systems dropped 30 percent in 2016 alone! The market’s already moving against coal and has been for years. It’s too expensive and dirty, and companies are seeing that, so they’re investing in clean energy. For example, just this past week Microsoft announced the biggest ever wind power buy. Cities see the importance of clean energy too - in the past year a whole bunch - from LA to Salt Lake City to Greensburg Kansas - have committed to being power by 100 percent clean energy. That’s where the jobs and savings are.

Dad says it’s about time that we have a president who knows climate disruption is a hoax:

Actually, dad, more and more science is coming out every day showing frightening data. 2016 is predicted to break records as the hottest year, and every year that record seems to be broken yet again -- “Sixteen of the 17 hottest years recorded have been in this century.” Trump will now be the only world leader who denies the reality of climate disruption. And every other country is still committed to the Paris climate agreement because they know the scary reality - heck even Bill O’Reilly said Trump should stick to the Paris agreement. We’re already seeing climate’s effects worldwide and here in the US- from massive wildfires to serious drought to severe weather that used to be 100-year-floods but are now happening every year. The science is there and Trump and his team need to accept it and act.

Mom says the Environmental Protection Agency is getting too involved in everyone’s lives:

Mom, they’re protecting our air and water. The standards they set improve public health. Do you think coal and oil companies should be able to dump whatever they want into our air and waterways? We’re paying for fossil fuels with our health already. Burning coal triggers asthma attacks - especially in kids and senior citizens - and it leads to other respiratory issues. And I’m glad someone has their eye on the oil and natural gas industry, too, as they continue drilling and fracking - both of which can poison our water supplies.

Sis says she feels too disheartened anymore to even care. She doesn’t know where to even start trying to help:

We understand that - things can seem pretty overwhelming right now. But together we can all take steps to fight back against who want polluters to be in control. It’s pretty easy to start off by taking online actions. From there you could try attending some local environmental group meetings. You’ll meet more like-minded people who will inspire you to act more (and who you can commiserate with)!

Grandpa says he’ll keep doing green stuff around the house, but doesn’t want to get into any political discussions:

That’s awesome, Grandpa. If you ever need any tips, Sierra magazine’s lifestyle section includes tips and green crafts all the time. They even have a great Ask Mr. Green column where people can ask him tough questions about various green issues - like can plastic shopping bags be recycled. What kind of green tips do you have for around the house, Grandpa?

We know this list isn’t exhaustive, but we hope it’s at least a good start to help you. If you have any tips you want to share, let us know in the comments!

Above all, we encourage you to stay patient, listen, and to continue to educate yourself (and your friends and family) on all these important issues. Sometimes you’ll just need to agree to disagree for a bit and focus on the food instead!

And stay tuned - as we get closer to the December holidays, we’ll unveil an even more comprehensive guide for these tough but important conversations.